Architect Kunal Barve’s office is a showcase of the designer’s keen eye for detail, his love of art and his ingenuity. Join us for a peek inside this comfy but professional Mumbai office.
How do fashion designers dress themselves? What do master chefs eat at home? How do architects design their personal spaces? The behind-the-scenes life of creative people is a subject of never-ending amusement and inspiration for the rest of us laypeople.
Architect Kunal Barve, a familiar name in these pages invites us to wander inside his firm – Interface’s newly renovated office in Mulund, Mumbai for a glimpse into the place where his architectural visions take shape. “Interface started out in 2004 with just 100 sq ft,” he informs, “over time we expanded to 600 sq ft, then 800 and now finally at 1,600 sq ft we occupy the entire second floor of a residential building.”
The office is a handy reference of Kunal’s design sensibilities, as well as a medium to showcase design ideas that may be hard to explain. Like the hidden door handles for instance. “Some people notice it, some don’t,” he says bluntly, “but those who do, appreciate the effort that has gone into that tiny detail and immediately request for the same to be replicated in their interiors.
Same can be said of the cantilevered desk in Kunal’s glass-walled cabin. The desk was created to provide more legroom when the office was just 100 sq ft.
Connected to Kunal’s cabin is the backroom where the designer has created an informal meeting space. This room also indulges Kunal’s need for comfort at the workplace with a plush sofa-cum-bed where he may catch forty winks if he needs to. “The office makes me feel at home; I feel free to design here,” he adds candidly.
Here’s also where Kunal surrounds himself with art that inspires him: a Jewish painting, a Tibetan carpet, a Thangka from Ladakh and a vintage chest. “I love mixing vintage with contemporary,” he confesses, looking fondly at the fine detailing on the vintage chest that had him hooked at first sight.
Elsewhere in the office are lithographic prints by Brazilian craftsmen, a charkha and a school of goldfish suspended from the ceiling. All of these he admits are a reflection of his personal tastes, a factor essential for building confidence in the minds of clients who visit.
The office’s compact space accommodates a tightly-knit group of eight persons, offering them sufficient room to ideate, work or mingle. While good, natural daylight floods the interiors through windows facing east, south and west, the view from these is less than remarkable.
Hence frosted glass in windows were used to blur out the crowded landscape and allow requisite amount of light to filter in. The office is also a great example of how cement and Cudappa, both unusual choices for office flooring, can still work up a professional atmosphere when polished well.
To counter the uninspiring outdoor view, Kunal focused on creating an office that was “inward looking”. The ambience inside is decidedly cosy and comfortable since the team works long hours but there’s also a deliberate attempt to include elements that highlight the firm’s creativity and professionalism.
Sticking to a monochromatic colour scheme, the architect played around with different textures and materials to disrupt workspace monotony. “We wanted to use materials that were grounded; we also wanted to demonstrate how simple materials could be elevated to premium,” elaborates Kunal.
Like any living space, this office too is constantly evolving. “We did not want a static experience,” emphasises Kunal, “A space must grow and evolve with time. In my office as well as across all my projects I always make provisions for new things to be added on.” Question is; will it be more art or square feet that the architect adds on next?
Text By Christabelle Athaide
Photographs Courtesy Santosh Jadhav